Hoppin’ John is a Southern New Year tradition.
The dish classically consists of black-eyed peas (which, despite the name, are in fact beans), rice, and steamed greens, served with a hot chili-based sauce or pepper vinegar.
It’s said that those who consume Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Eve are bound for a year of prosperity: the greens symbolize money, and the swelling of the black-eyed peas during cooking symbolizes wealth. Some recipes even call for a coin to be thrown into the pot with the black-eyed peas while they cook.
(Not my recipe.)
Vegan Hoppin’ John
Before I went vegan, I’d never heard of Hoppin’ John. And even then, the thought of consuming beans cooked with hog jowls or fat back—as the black-eyed peas in Hoppin’ John traditionally are—would have been unappealing.
In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d never consumed black-eyed peas until the first time I made Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s vegan Hoppin’ John recipe. Ever since, Hoppin’ John has ranked among my favorite dishes.
Make Vegan Hoppin’ John
The vegan Hoppin’ John recipe I share today is inspired by Isa’s genius idea to pair the black-eyed peas, rice, and greens typical of Hoppin’ John with a tomato salad, and, as Isa calls it, a “red hot tahini” sauce.
For the tomato salad component of my vegan Hoppin’ John, I use my Fresh Pico de Gallo recipe. For the “red hot tahini” sauce, I modified the base of Isa’s recipe, which consists of tahini, garlic, and Frank’s RedHot Original Hot Sauce, and added liquid smoke, Bragg Liquid Aminos, and maple syrup. The tahini sauce and pico de gallo bring an addicting freshness and extra burst of flavor to the other Hoppin’ John components.
Don’t wait for New Year’s Eve. Make my vegan Hoppin’ John for dinner this week. It’s a filling, delicious, and healthy meal that’s sure to be a repeat.
A Few Things
Hoppin’ John is usually served with steamed greens. But I love the textural crunch that comes from serving Hoppin’ John over fresh greens. I recommend using a crunchy lettuce, like freshly chopped romaine.
It’s said that those with enough Hoppin’ John left over from New Year’s Eve to serve the meal again on New Year’s Day will be even more prosperous. (Hoppin’ John served a second day is called Skippin’ Jenny.)
So it’s a good thing that my recipe makes enough to serve a family of four over two nights. The only thing you may need to make more of the second night is the pico de gallo. But that’s only if, like me, you tend to be over-generous with your pico de gallo portion sizes.
Liquid smoke is a great way to add the flavor of wood smoke to food when you can’t/don’t want to cook food over a fire. Liquid smoke adds a lot of flavor to the black-eyed peas and the tahini sauce in my recipe. You can find my favorite brand of liquid smoke, Wright’s, in most grocery stores, but here it is on Amazon [aff. link]. You can also find it in my Amazon store here. I regularly use Wright’s mesquite and hickory flavors. Use either one in this recipe.
Vegan Hoppin' John
For the black-eyed peas:
- 16 oz dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
- 7 cups water
- 3 tsp liquid smoke, mesquite or hickory flavored
- 1 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 2 ½ tsp sea salt
For the tahini sauce:
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup Franks RedHot Original Hot Sauce
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 clove garlic, minced
For the pico de gallo:
- 1 ½ cup diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup minced mini sweet peppers
- 2 ½ Tbsp minced cilantro
- 2 Tbsp minced red onion
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 2 tsp lime juice, freshly squeezed (or to taste)
- Rice, (I use 4-5 cups cooked Basmati Rice. It feeds 4 people over two days)
- Lettuce, preferably something crisp, like romaine
Soak the black-eyed peas overnight
- The night before you cook the black-eyed peas, rinse them. Add the rinsed black-eyed peas to a large soup pot, and cover them with water by several inches.
- Cover the pot with a lid, and let the black-eyed peas soak in water overnight on the counter or stovetop. (This helps the beans cook faster.)
Cook the black-eyed peas
- The next evening, drain the black-eyed peas, and put them back in the soup pot. Now add 7 cups of water, 3 tsp liquid smoke, and 1 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos to the pot.
- Put the soup pot on the stovetop, and turn the heat on to high. Bring the black-eyed peas to a boil. The beans will get foamy on top. If the foam gets too high, simply stir the pot. The foam will drop down.
- Once the black-eyed peas are boiling, turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape, and let the beans simmer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, taste a few black-eyed peas. The beans should be cooked through but still have a bite. If the black-eyed peas are still too hard, simmer them for an additional 5 minutes.
- Once the black-eyed peas finish cooking, uncover them. Stir the 2 ½ tsp sea salt into the black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas are done.
- While the black-eyed peas cook, get the rice started, make the tahini sauce and make the pico de gallo.
Make the tahini sauce
- Add all the tahini sauce ingredients to a cereal bowl. Whisk everything together with a fork until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add water 1 Tbsp at a time. Tahini sauce is done.
Make the pico de gallo
- Dice/mince all the pico de gallo ingredients. Add them to a small mixing bowl as you go.
- Dice/mince the pico de gallo ingredients in whatever order you prefer, but for cleanliness of the cutting board, here’s the order I recommend:
- Mince the peppers
- Mince the onion
- Mince the cilantro
- Dice the tomatoes (see photos here for my method)
- Gently mix all the pico de gallo ingredients together in the mixing bowl. Now add the sea salt, pepper, 2 tsp lime juice, and mix again.
- Taste, and add more lime juice, if desired. Pico de gallo is done.
Compile and serve
- Serve the black-eyed peas over lettuce and rice. Put a generous amount of pico de gallo over the beans, followed by a generous amount of tahini sauce. Enjoy!